How to make your content scannable

Users don’t read much when they are looking for information. They scan the pages and try to find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. They will not pay attention to anything other than links, images and short descriptions that could be relevant to what they are looking for.

Even when they have found the topic they are interested in they may only read as much as they need to satisfy their goals.

Do’s

  • Start with the key message.
  • Put high-priority information in the upper left of the content area.
  • Use a heading for each topic.
  • Emphasise headings with type size or bold style.
  • Write in very short paragraphs.
  • Use bulleted lists.
  • Use numbered lists for instructions.
  • Use tables to compare numbers.
  • Use shading on alternate rows for tables.
  • Point out important information in bold characters.
  • Point out links and make it obvious what’s clickable.
  • Put a date on every page to show when the content was last updated.

Don’ts

  • Don’t centre text.
  • Avoid horizontal scrolling at 1024×768
  • Make sure the important content is visible above the fold.

Related links

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